World Champion Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton, has lost his three year legal battle to try and block the luxury Swiss watchmaker, Hamilton International, which was founded in 1892, from trademarking the name 'Hamilton'.
Hamilton was slapped down after entering in a legal battle with the watch company to prevent Hamilton International from registering its brand in Europe.
An EU court threw out his case, and stated to the F1 mogul that he had no"natural right" to the name which has been used by the company since the 19th Century, well before the 30-year-old racer was born. Hamilton International was founded in 1892 when it opened its original factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Lawyers for the Mercedes star's company, who tried to avoid the application, claimed that the case had been filed in "bad faith".
Hamilton International, which was bought by the Swatch Group in 2007, slammed back at the Mercedes driver by providing evidence that they have been selling watches bearing the name since 1892.
The watch company, Hamilton, provided watches to the US Airmail service in the early 20th century. To this day, the company is the official timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Hamilton has also been Hollywood's go-to watch brand for several movies since Marlene Dietrich's movie Shanghai Express in 1932. The king himself, Elvis Presley, wore the firm's Ventura watch in his musical comedy, Blue Hawaii.
Hamilton International's trademark effectively gives them exclusive rights to use the name brand on accessories across the continent.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) refused the racing driver's company's request to cancel the trademark, saying; "The argument relating to the IP rights of the racing driver 'Lewis Hamilton' fails. The contested mark consists solely of one word 'HAMILTON', and not 'LEWIS HAMILTON'. It is a rather common surname in English-speaking countries. There is no 'natural right' for a person to have his or her own name registered as a trademark, when that would infringe third parties' rights. Even the cancellation applicant explicitly accepted that the contested mark 'HAMILTON' had been used since 1892, i.e. even before the date of birth of 'Lewis Hamilton' as a natural person. No bad faith can be found on the part of the EU trademark proprietor. In fact, the EU trademark proprietor demonstrated a significant economic activity in the horological field since 1892."
The race car driver’s lawyers raised concern that Lewis is seeking to expand his products to smartwatches. The hearing was told that his company 44IP, which is named after Lewis’s race number, are attempting to trademark the name 'Lewis Hamilton' for a number of goods which includes watches, smartwatches and jewellery.
Hamilton International did however oppose the move, and the company’s legal team filed evidence which stated; "The appellant bases its accusation of bad faith of the contested trademark's proprietor on the fact that this party has not provided evidence of the commercial intent of the proprietor of the contested trademark to expand its market to related goods. We do not consider it appropriate or necessary to facilitate market strategies and marketing plans for a competitor, who intends to enter the market with a mark which is practically identical to the well-known earlier marks of our client, by offering goods which are also identical."
Lewis Hamilton’s company, 44IP, was ordered to pay and estimate of £893 towards Hamilton International's legal costs.